Point/Counterpoint: Is there value in openly discussing our grades?

Debating the benefits and drawbacks of sharing marks

Students debate whether there's benefit in sharing grades.
Photo: 

 YES

Students being open about marks might seem like a recipe for disappointment and self-deprecation, but open dialogue can serve to help gauge your progress, alleviate doubt, and create a sense of solidarity.

When I walk out of a midterm feeling dejected, there’s nothing like getting a text saying, “Dude, was that brutal or what?” When scenarios like these happen, it gives me a feeling of comradery with my classmates. Instead of being a singular, struggling student, I become part of a larger whole. 

Knowing other people’s marks offers support and understanding when there otherwise wouldn’t be, and it’s made possible by people being forthright andhonest about academic struggles and successes. Even if this ends up having the opposite effect—if your peers did better than you—it still has value. 

Comparing your performance to others highlights your effort and skills against those around you. This kind of self-reflection can be hard and emotionally taxing, but if done right, it can lead to improvement, learning, and indication towards future success. 

SOLUS provides grade distributions to every Queen’s student—not so they can rank bird courses, but because there’s real, instrumental value in seeing how you measure up to your peers. 

That said, there are benefits and drawbacks to comparing your grades to others. But if the process starts with a desire to see whether you’re fulfilling your full academic potential, it’s something that should be encouraged. 

—Cade Cowan, Contributor

NO

Comparing grades creates competition between you and other students—and it’s rarely left me feeling good about my latest test mark. In my experience, being open about grades has never been constructive or healthy.

Everyone has different definitions of what constitutes a good grade.  For someone struggling to pass a course, earning a grade of 60 per cent is a major achievement. For another person who is more proficient in the same subject, an 85 might be a dissapointment.

In cases such as these, comparing grades can diminish someone's sense of accomplishment for a grade they worked hard for. 

Hearing others complain their higher grades weren’t good enough can significantly lower one’s confidence. Hearing others performed better than I did on assignments or tests often leaves me kicking myself for not studying a little bit harder. It creates pressure to perform better on my next assessment. 

While a bit of stress for motivation can be helpful, there’s a difference between working to achieve your personal best and feeling pressured to keep up with others.

This discrepancy can eventually take a toll on your mental health. Even if a mark is objectively good, constantly comparing your marks is exhausting. Someone will always have a higher mark than you, and it often leaves you often unsatisfied with your academic performance.

In cases where I’ve compared grades with others and found that I performed better, I don’t feel good after sharing this information, either. Hearing that  someone else did better can lower your confidence, and I feel guilty knowing I could’ve inflicted that feeling on someone else. 

Rather than trying to be better than others, I avoid sharing grades and focus on reaching my personal goals based on my own standards and abilities.

—Chiara Gottheil, Contributor

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